There are stores that are flashy. There are stores that are grand. And then, there are stores like Byrd’s Books in downtown Bethel that make you feel like you stepped into the living room of an old friend. You can curl up on a chair and browse or read for as long as you want. These are shops that are the equivalent of a hot cup of cocoa and a fuzzy blanket. They spell comfort. And happiness.
They have new books, old books, hard-to-get books, and hard-to-get books that they will somehow get for you. Then there’s the summer reading lists for local schools, story hours for kids, and author events. We met Steve while we were there and he told us about this Bookmark Contest they are having this month. Here’s a link to the form.
You can just google “support small business” and find tons of lists extolling the virtues of the indie store. I will give you just one reason. Would you rather eat breakfast at a diner where the waitstaff knows how you take your coffee and then walk down a tree-lined sidewalk into a cozy shop filled from floor to ceiling with books, and watch your five-year-old chat with the owner while they choose books? Or would you rather have your downtown swarming with traffic, chain restaurants and sprawling malls?
I am lucky to have the former. There’s so much to say for a town that nurtures its independent stores. Shops like Byrd’s Books are unique. They add to the character of the street they are on. They inspire creativity. They teach us to slow down. They create a welcoming atmosphere for little readers.
Yes, I get it. We have Kindle. We have ebooks. We have libraries (which are great because you can’t afford to buy each and every book you want to read). But where children are concerned, nothing beats the real deal. A book in hand. A story you can’t wait to read. A prized possession. A dedication on the pages that makes you smile when you are older.
I have so many books from my childhood where my parents have written a short note. Now when I look at those titles and pass them on to my son, I feel they are the most precious of family heirlooms. Because they are.
As are the little shops that make a town feel like home.
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